Tuesday, December 08, 2020

2007 and the Daring Bakers

By 2007 I'd gotten my feet wet by participating in a number of events and blog parties. I'd figured out how to use natural lighting to get better photos and I began to develop my photography and writing styles. I didn't bother with analytics, but I was getting more comments so I knew that there were readers who were looking at my posts...always exciting by the way...and I suspected from comments from friends and family members that there were even more 'lurkers' who never commented. I love the lurkers, too.

In late 2006 or early 2007 I noticed that some of the blog I visited on a regular basis were buzzing about making Hot Buttered Pretzels on the same day at the same time, with emails whizzing around as they group baked. The next month the same women (it was all women at first), plus a few more, baked Chocolate Biscotti, also as a group bake. In January it was Croissants! I was interested and asked one of the the bloggers about it. She told me who to contact, so I asked to join the group. There was one more bake, of a decadent flourless chocolate cake, before I joined. By then the group had grown to something like 14 bakers. My first month we baked Red Velvet Cake. I was amazed that you could put a whole bottle of red food coloring in one cake! The group was the Daring Bakers. It grew like a wildfire and eventually had at least a thousand people in the blog roll, although I'm not sure that all of them baked any one month. It also grew so that there were Daring Cooks, rules, organized ways to take turns selecting the recipe or the month, etc. The guiding light for all of this organization was Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. At first it was really exciting...all those blogs and variations of the recipe. Eventually it really became too large so that there was no way to visit even a fraction of the blogs participating, so you tended to go to those you already knew about, which was sad for the newbies.

One of the best things about the Daring Bakers, beyond Lis's hilarious posts, was that it really, really expanded my horizons and forced me to grow as a baker. As I have watched the Great British Baking show it always amazes me to see recipes that we baked as Daring Bakers which are new to the bakers in the tent. Nothing was too difficult for us to try including Gateau St. Honore' which is one of the bakes that are given to students finishing culinary baking programs because you have to create puff pastry, choux pastry, pastry cream as part of Chibost cream, caramelized sugar work and whipped cream. You have to use a pastry bag, fill cream puffs with pastry cream and then dip filled cream puffs in caramel (while making sure to attach them to the base while the caramel is still hot enough for them to stick to the base), know how to make puff pastry stay flat but still baked, and how much or little to whip cream for decoration. As I go through the years I'll point out some of the Daring Bakers recipes so that you can see what an education it was in the pastry arts to participate. One of my favorites was made in the summer, Strawberry Mirror Cake. When those bakers in Britain get overheated in their tent, it makes me think of making this gelatin based dessert in summer heat, too. Still, it was very delicious and gorgeous!

Another new experience for me in 2007 was participating in memes. One happened right before the Gateau St. Honore' post. Peabody, who blogged at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody (now Sweet ReciPEAs)was interviewed on her blog and then she had to interview other bloggers, and I was one. She gave me five questions to answer. Here is what I wrote about the reason I joined the Daring Bakers: I was inspired by the croissant three-day marathon. Not only was the challenge daunting and exciting, but it was clear that a lot of fun happened among the bakers, too. Each one of the participants except one had blogs that I regularly visited, too, which made it even more fun to read about. Guess I wanted to have some fun with the girls and see if I could meet the challenges. Not only has it been fun and forced me to try things outside of my comfort zone, but I’ve started to bake more and have ‘met’ a wonderful group of very supportive, generous people.

Another thing I did in 2007, which I did variations of later, was to post every day for a period of time on a theme. In February I posted for 14 days...until Valentine's Day and each day's post was based on that day's number. Some of my favorite recipes are here, including Maida Heatter's 86 Proof Chocolate Cake on day 9 with 9 kinds of chocolate displayed, and Lemon Curd on day 11, with a photo of eleven tea pots...I often serve lemon curd when I serve scones for tea time.

My garden has always been a big part of my life and the advantage of blogging is that I was now able to share not only recipes made with garden fresh ingredients, but I could share my photography of the garden and the produce from it. In August not only did I have a recipe called 'Walk Through The Garden Pie", but the same post showed other ways I prepared fresh tomatoes from the garden, with photos. Photos in March showed the early garden and later in the year showed the mature plants and produce.

The blog sparked my creativity in a number of ways. I used my Illustrator skills to create elements of October's Bostini Mini-Cakes. I used my graphic arts skills to make a nutrition graphic for chard in early December. Perhaps the most lasting was my creation of the Land of St. Honore', where baking is a birthright. Posts about that imaginary Land include a short story that I made up and many of the posts were also Daring Bakers posts...as a matter of fact I started the short story idea because there were by then so many Daring Bakers posts all over the blogosphere and I wanted mine to be a bit different. HERE is the first one. Note that is is only seven months since I joined the Daring Bakers...the growth really was explosive.

Sometimes my posts were sort of educational like the one on making Quince Jelly. It is still a popular post and it uses photos and text to walk you through making quince jelly and shows the lovely shining results. Too bad it can't capture the almost floral fragrance. I also did a post at Easter on how to color hard cooked eggs the old fashioned way with food coloring, vinegar and boiling water. That post still gets hits around Easter time all these years later.

On occasion the blog becomes a travel journal, usually food-centric. A good example is a trip Sweetie and I took to Virginia to visit family and install a pedestal sink for my Mom.  These Lemon Bars are outstanding.

If you find these glimpses of the 2007 posts interesting, do check out that year. In web version you will see a list of years and if you change the arrow next to the year to point down, you can go through the months and discover your own treasures.


  1. Again, sweet memories from when we all used to know each other. My first Daring Bakers was when there were like 16 of us. I thankfully missed the crap (crepe) cake. Did the Honoré and the mirror cake. I learned so much! And yes at one point there were like 1600 ? Impossible to do a blogroll and comment. (Maybe it was a preview of what social media was going to be)

  2. Glad you missed the crap cake, although in retrospect it was useful to know that not all recipes are fool proof...or even well written. That tremendous and rapid growth of a baking group was an eye-opener, too. I think the advantage that it had of current social media was that it was open-ended. Now it seems like much of social media is siloed. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas Karen! Maybe it's time to start a very select baking group of Daring Baker alumni? The Bread Baking Babes does that for bread, but there are so many other kinds of baking...